Denounce gross lack of preparations for new pandemic surge
The Filipino people are outraged at the gross lack of preparations of the Duterte government for the rapid surge in Covid-19 infections. The new surge has long been anticipated by the scientific community with the identification of the Omicron variant which started to spread in the western hemisphere as early as November 2021.
The Duterte government’s complacency is clearly manifested in the just signed 2022 budget which did not allocate enough funds to conduct free mass testing and ramp up the capacity of hospitals to accommodate the expected increase in Covid-19 patients. Funds to purchase vaccines is more than 60% less than the purchases made last year. Nor were funds allotted to improve facilities in schools to ensure the safe conduct of face-to-face classes.
Duterte himself admitted the budget does not have an “elbow room” for new surges. The regime’s utter shortsightedness will be the cause of bringing back the country down to its knees in the face of the continuing pandemic.
Faced with the threat of a renewed surge, the regime is again set to resort to restrictions and lockdown measures that have long proven to be ineffective especially without concomitant mass testing and widespread contact tracing. Factories and businesses face threats of closures and will add to the widespread problem of joblessness. As a result of government’s failure to ensure that school facilities were upgraded, schools are again set to be closed (although many have actually remained close) to the detriment of students.
The emergence of new Covid-19 variants is attributed to the lack of vaccines due to intellectual property rights and monopolization of production by big pharmaceutical companies; and the inequitable distribution between the advanced capitalist countries and the backward countries across the world, and between the cities and the rural areas within different countries. Worse, expired or near expired vaccines are being dumped in countries such as the Philippines.
In the country, only above 40% of the population has been vaccinated. Vaccination is concentrated in the National Capital Region leaving out many outlying provinces, especially people in the rural areas. Less than 2% have received booster shots even as the efficacy of the first round of vaccines anticipated to wane in the near future.
In the face of the renewed Covid-19 surge, there is mounting clamor for an immediate realignment of funds for the purchase of military equipment and hardware (including new aircraft, war ships, cruise missiles, bombs and cannons) and infrastructure projects in order to increase funds for public hospitals and medical facilities, public schools, transportation facilities and other public services.
There is rising demand for free mass testing (especially in work places and schools), free treatment, stepped up vaccine education and inoculation campaign, vaccine research and production, retrofitting of schools and other urgent measures. There is demand for higher wages, lower prices, economic aid and other urgent needs in the face of rising prices and economic crisis.
The Filipino people must act now to demand these urgent measures and not allow themselves to again bear the burden of the government’s failed response and gross irresponsibility.